Darrell Wright II served his country from 1992 to 2001, started a family, entered college as a freshman at MTSU in 2013 and helped fellow student veterans in the Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center.
En route to graduating Saturday, Dec. 16, with a bachelor’s degree in business, a 3.4 GPA and a double major in finance and economics, Wright and nearly 20 fellow student veterans took a break between classes, work and the rest of their lives to receive a special red stole they will wear at commencement.
In the fall 2017 Graduating Veterans Stole Ceremony, held Tuesday, Nov. 28, in the Miller Education Center’s atrium, the university recognized the men and women for their service to their country and for achieving their dream of a college degree.
A native of Anderson, Indiana, Wright, 48, said he now “plans to get a job and go to graduate school in the fall.” He’s heading to Bloomington, Indiana, to attend the Kelly School of Business at Indiana University.
“This has been a good experience,” said Wright, who has served as a counselor in the MTSU veterans center and helped student veterans “if they had trouble signing up for classes or were having trouble in a class. We try to get the resources he or she needs to be successful.”
“As a nontraditional student, when people find out you are a veteran, every one of them will say, ‘Thank you for your service,'” he said. “They would ask what is different in America, compared to where I have been overseas. Everyone is always very caring, giving and understanding.”
Wright’s final Army job was as an X-ray technician at Joint Base Balad in Iraq. He also served in Africa and Afghanistan.
He and his wife, DeAndra, are the parents of four daughters: Dariayn of Murfreesboro; DiAnna and Darra, who attend the University of Memphis; and Annesia, a student at Indiana University.
Keith M. Huber, senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives at MTSU, joined university President Sidney A. McPhee and Provost Mark Byrnes in congratulating the soon-to-be graduates.
“Thank you for choosing our university,” McPhee said, expressing his gratitude for the sacrifices made by both the student veterans and their families. “You made our institution a better place.”
Huber, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, spoke of trust and commitment during the ceremony. Byrnes thanked the student veterans for their presence in MTSU’s classrooms as part of a diverse student body.
Huber also introduced special guest David Corlew, a board member and Journey Home Project co-founder with Country Music Hall of Fame honoree Charlie Daniels.
Dr. Hilary Miller, director of the veterans center, presented each graduating student veteran with a commemorative coin symbolizing their continued contributions to the Daniels Center and the university as alumni.
Student veterans attending the ceremony have served in the U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines. Some continue to serve in the National Guard. Nearly 120 will graduate in December.
Representatives from Waffle House, Pinnacle Financial Partners, Barrett Firearms, Mission BBQ, Operation Stand Down Tennessee, state and federal Veterans Affairs offices and others also attended to meet prospective job-seekers.
For more on the veterans center, call 615-904-8347 or visit www.mtsu.edu/military online.